NYERI, MAY 26, 2015(CISA) – Approximately 100,000 people gathered at Dedan Kimathi University Grounds in Nyeri on May 23 to witness the beatification of Sr Irene Stefani ‘Nyaatha’ an Italian Consolata Missionary nun who lived, worked and died in Gikondi, Nyeri.
The historic event was graced by Polycarp Cardinal Pengo of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam,Tanzania who was the Pope’s delegate for the beatification and John Cardinal Njue of Nairobi who was the main celebrant.
Other dignitaries present included President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, Former President Mwai Kibaki, Archbishop Charles Balvo the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan, 33 bishops from Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Nigeria and hundreds of priests, men and women religious and faithful from different parts of the country and the world.
In his homily Cardinal Njue said Sr Irene stands out to be a fitting role model to all people, young and old.
“That is why the Church honours her with the title ‘Blessed’ since her life was a reflection of the beatitudes well articulated by Christ in the Gospel,” he said.
Cardinal Njue further said the beatification of Sr Irene is, “a unifying moment for all people and we are able to see beyond the categories of race, tribe, nationality and religion” adding that the beatification is an indication that we can overcome many barriers that confront humanity by living the gospel values.
Archbishop Peter Kairo of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri urged the faithful to emulate Sr Irene’s virtues.
“Like Sr Irene, let our motto be ‘All for Jesus’ as we strive to deepen our faith and build a united country Kenya, let us show care and concern for one another,” he said.
The ceremony was characterised by reading of the holy decree to proclaim Sr Irene Blessed by Cardinal Pengo in Latin and translated to English, revealing of a canvas with an icon of Blessed Sr Irene, and handing of her relics to the parish priest of Gikondi Catholic Parish.
The beatification ceremony began on Friday May 22 with a Vigil Mass at Gikondi and ended on Sunday May 24 with a procession that saw her relics taken from Mathari Catholic Church to Our Lady Consolata Cathedral in Nyeri town.